Special Issue "Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning"

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A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Robert K. Logan

Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada
Website1 | Website2 | E-Mail
Interests: media ecology; systems biology; linguistics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The objective of the special issue entitled "Information: Its Different Modes and its Relation to Meaning" is to explore the nature of information in the wide variety of forms that it takes and answers the following questions:
What is information?
Does the nature of information change depending on the context in which it is employed? For example is the information stored in DNA or on a computer the same?
Is there a difference between symbolic information like that stored in a book or on a computer and DNA which is not symbolic of RNA but catalyzes its production?
What is the relationship of information to the medium in which it is stored or instantiated?
What is the relation of information to any of the following, i.e. to meaning, to data, to knowledge, to wisdom, to science, to physics, to chemistry, to biology, to medicine, to neurophysiology, to neural networks, to psychology, to psychiatry, to evolution, to mathematics, to philosophy, to technology, to computers, to engineering, to design, to economics, to complexity, to chaos, to emergence, to commerce, to business, to knowledge management, to culture, to history, to art, to music, to the sender, to the receiver, to the channel, to systems theory, to cybernetics, to ontology, to epistemology, to consciousness, and to x where x is some other topic of interest to you.
What role did the concept of or role of information play in the work of some scholar such as Shannon, Weaver, Kolmogorov, Chaitin, McLuhan, Innis, Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Freud, Jung, Kant, Descarte, Russell, Whitehead, Pierce, Bateson, Turing, Gödel, von Neumann or any other scholar of interest to you?
If you are interested in being part of this project please let me know as soon as possible for planning purposes. Email me at Bob Logan logan@physics.utoronto.ca. The deadline for a letter of intent will be February 3, 2012. The deadline for an abstract will be March 1 with a deadline of July 6, 2012 for the final article once the abstract has been accepted.

Prof. Dr. Robert K. Logan
Guest Editor

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Complexity over Uncertainty in Generalized Representational Information Theory (GRIT): A Structure-Sensitive General Theory of Information
Information 2013, 4(1), 1-30; doi:10.3390/info4010001
Received: 9 August 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 12 December 2012 / Published: 20 December 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (350 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
What is information? Although researchers have used the construct of information liberally to refer to pertinent forms of domain-specific knowledge, relatively few have attempted to generalize and standardize the construct. Shannon and Weaver (1949) offered the best known attempt at a quantitative generalization
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What is information? Although researchers have used the construct of information liberally to refer to pertinent forms of domain-specific knowledge, relatively few have attempted to generalize and standardize the construct. Shannon and Weaver (1949) offered the best known attempt at a quantitative generalization in terms of the number of discriminable symbols required to communicate the state of an uncertain event. This idea, although useful, does not capture the role that structural context and complexity play in the process of understanding an event as being informative. In what follows, we discuss the limitations and futility of any generalization (and particularly, Shannon’s) that is not based on the way that agents extract patterns from their environment. More specifically, we shall argue that agent concept acquisition, and not the communication of states of uncertainty, lie at the heart of generalized information, and that the best way of characterizing information is via the relative gain or loss in concept complexity that is experienced when a set of known entities (regardless of their nature or domain of origin) changes. We show that Representational Information Theory perfectly captures this crucial aspect of information and conclude with the first generalization of RIT to continuous domains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle On the Origin of Metadata
Information 2012, 3(4), 790-808; doi:10.3390/info3040790
Received: 3 August 2012 / Revised: 3 December 2012 / Accepted: 4 December 2012 / Published: 7 December 2012
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Abstract
Metadata has been around and has evolved for centuries, albeit not recognized as such. Medieval manuscripts typically had illuminations at the start of each chapter, being both a kind of signature for the author writing the script and a pictorial chapter anchor for
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Metadata has been around and has evolved for centuries, albeit not recognized as such. Medieval manuscripts typically had illuminations at the start of each chapter, being both a kind of signature for the author writing the script and a pictorial chapter anchor for the illiterates at the time. Nowadays, there is so much fragmented information on the Internet that users sometimes fail to distinguish the real facts from some bended truth, let alone being able to interconnect different facts. Here, the metadata can both act as noise-reductors for detailed recommendations to the end-users, as it can be the catalyst to interconnect related information. Over time, metadata thus not only has had different modes of information, but furthermore, metadata’s relation of information to meaning, i.e., “semantics”, evolved. Darwin’s evolutionary propositions, from “species have an unlimited reproductive capacity”, over “natural selection”, to “the cooperation of mutations leads to adaptation to the environment” show remarkable parallels to both metadata’s different modes of information and to its relation of information to meaning over time. In this paper, we will show that the evolution of the use of (meta)data can be mapped to Darwin’s nine evolutionary propositions. As mankind and its behavior are products of an evolutionary process, the evolutionary process of metadata with its different modes of information is on the verge of a new-semantic-era. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle The Logical Dynamics of Information; Deacon’s “Incomplete Nature
Information 2012, 3(4), 676-714; doi:10.3390/info3040676
Received: 26 June 2012 / Revised: 8 October 2012 / Accepted: 9 November 2012 / Published: 16 November 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (241 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In his Incomplete Nature, Deacon extends a thermodynamic concept of energy to yield a description of complex processes in which absence plays a critical role in their emergence and evolution. Starting from a quantum-mechanical picture of energy as an energy-matter duality, the
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In his Incomplete Nature, Deacon extends a thermodynamic concept of energy to yield a description of complex processes in which absence plays a critical role in their emergence and evolution. Starting from a quantum-mechanical picture of energy as an energy-matter duality, the critical role of potential as well as actual properties of processes is also described in the new extension of logic to real phenomena, Logic in Reality (LIR), which I have proposed. Deacon shows how an interactive operation of both Shannon entropy and Boltzmann entropy must be taken into account in information. Here, I demonstrate the complementarity of our two approaches to what is not, or not fully, present for an understanding of the dynamics of complex phenomena, especially, of intentionality, information and meaning. Deacon shows that the hallmark of information is its absent content, and LIR shows that presence (actuality) and absence (potentiality) in such processes are related dynamically. Deacon’s approach and LIR ground and extend Logan’s concepts of biotic information and the relativity of information vs. meaning. Their conjunction constitutes a new conceptual structure for exploring the relationship of information to materiality, that is, to the matter-energy that constitutes it as its carrier and/or substrate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle When Information Conveys Meaning
Information 2012, 3(4), 635-643; doi:10.3390/info3040635
Received: 22 June 2012 / Revised: 19 October 2012 / Accepted: 26 October 2012 / Published: 2 November 2012
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Abstract
While some information is clearly meaningful and some clearly is not, no one has been able to identify exactly what the difference is. The major obstacle has been the way information and meaning are conceptualized: the one in the physical realm of tangible,
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While some information is clearly meaningful and some clearly is not, no one has been able to identify exactly what the difference is. The major obstacle has been the way information and meaning are conceptualized: the one in the physical realm of tangible, objective entities and the other in the mental world of intangible, subjective ones. This paper introduces an approach that incorporates both of them within a unified framework by defining them in terms of what they do, rather than what they are. Meaningful information is thus conceptualized here as patterns of matter and energy that have a tangible effect on the entities that detect them, either by changing their function, structure or behavior, while patterns of matter and energy that have no such effects are considered meaningless. The way that meaningful information can act as a causal agent in bio-behavioral systems enables us to move beyond dualistic concepts of ourselves as comprised of a material body that obeys the laws of physics and a non-material essence that is too elusive to study [1]. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle Design Epistemology
Information 2012, 3(4), 621-634; doi:10.3390/info3040621
Received: 6 September 2012 / Revised: 23 September 2012 / Accepted: 25 September 2012 / Published: 24 October 2012
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Abstract
The liberation from the view that only one way of making sense of experience is legitimate (the one that “corresponds to reality”), which follows from the results of 20th century science and philosophy, puts us into a position to consciously choose and assign
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The liberation from the view that only one way of making sense of experience is legitimate (the one that “corresponds to reality”), which follows from the results of 20th century science and philosophy, puts us into a position to consciously choose and assign a purpose to the creation of meaning; and based on that choice, to develop completely new modes of information, to suit each chosen purpose. We present an instance of this approach, where information and knowledge work are considered as key societal systemic components, and then designed as it may best suit the various functions that pertain to this role, notably the function of illuminating the way to all other systemic self-organization. Design epistemology provides an academic foundation for this approach; the Knowledge Federation community implements it in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle Information and the Regulation of a Lower Hierarchical Level by a Higher One
Information 2012, 3(4), 595-600; doi:10.3390/info3040595
Received: 2 July 2012 / Revised: 8 October 2012 / Accepted: 9 October 2012 / Published: 22 October 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (37 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper I consider the usefulness of the compositional hierarchy model in understanding the information flows involved in group behaviors in animals. I propose that short-term memory can function to transduce information across scale, thereby connecting different modes of information and mediating
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In this paper I consider the usefulness of the compositional hierarchy model in understanding the information flows involved in group behaviors in animals. I propose that short-term memory can function to transduce information across scale, thereby connecting different modes of information and mediating coherent group motions. This transduction I propose to be mediated by the “sign” as understood in Peircean semiotics, generating the meaning of the information for the social animal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle Counting Electric Sheep: Understanding Information in the Context of Media Ecology
Information 2012, 3(3), 442-471; doi:10.3390/info3030442
Received: 29 August 2012 / Revised: 5 September 2012 / Accepted: 7 September 2012 / Published: 18 September 2012
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Abstract
In the field of media ecology, defined as the study of media as environments, media and medium, and ecology and environment are key terms, while information, although commonly employed, is generally used without reference to a specific definition. This article examines
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In the field of media ecology, defined as the study of media as environments, media and medium, and ecology and environment are key terms, while information, although commonly employed, is generally used without reference to a specific definition. This article examines the mostly implicit assumptions about and understandings of the term information in the context of the field of media ecology. Information can be seen as a synonym or subset of content or message, can be divided into different orders or levels of content/communication and relationship/medium, and on both levels is dependent on and altered by changes in technology, code, and form. Although sometimes discussed as if it were a substance, information is best understood as a function of communication, which in turn is a function of mediation. As a function of mediated communication, information is closely associated with news and control. Information is also considered the defining characteristic of our contemporary period, but is best understood as a product of electricity, electric technology, and the electronic media. As we have moved from orality to literacy to electricity, so too has the emphasis shifted from wisdom to knowledge to information. Despite popular celebration, this evolution is not an unmitigated good, and what is needed is a balanced media environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle Information, Meaning and Eigenforms: In the Light of Sociology, Agent-Based Modeling and AI
Information 2012, 3(3), 331-343; doi:10.3390/info3030331
Received: 28 March 2012 / Revised: 23 July 2012 / Accepted: 31 July 2012 / Published: 14 August 2012
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Abstract
The paper considers the relation of Shannon-type information to those semantic and hermeneutic aspects of communication, which are often referred to as meaning. It builds on considerations of Talcott Parsons, Niklas Luhmann and Robert K. Logan and relates them to an agent-based model
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The paper considers the relation of Shannon-type information to those semantic and hermeneutic aspects of communication, which are often referred to as meaning. It builds on considerations of Talcott Parsons, Niklas Luhmann and Robert K. Logan and relates them to an agent-based model that reproduces key aspects of the Talking Head experiment by Luc Steels. The resulting insights seem to give reason to regard information and meaning not as qualitatively different entities, but as interrelated forms of order that emerge in the interaction of autonomous (self-referentially closed) agents. Although on first sight, this way of putting information and meaning into a constructivist framework seems to open possibilities to conceive meaning in terms of Shannon-information, it also suggests a re-conceptualization of information in terms of what cybernetics calls Eigenform in order to do justice to its dynamic interrelation with meaning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle The Role of Multimedia Content in Determining the Virality of Social Media Information
Information 2012, 3(3), 278-289; doi:10.3390/info3030278
Received: 19 June 2012 / Revised: 9 July 2012 / Accepted: 18 July 2012 / Published: 25 July 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (531 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper provides empirical evidence supporting the assumption that content plays a critical role in determining the virality, i.e., the influence, of social media information. The analysis focuses on multimedia content on Twitter and explores the idea that links to
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The paper provides empirical evidence supporting the assumption that content plays a critical role in determining the virality, i.e., the influence, of social media information. The analysis focuses on multimedia content on Twitter and explores the idea that links to multimedia information increase the virality of posts. In particular, we put forward the following three main hypotheses: (1) posts with a link to multimedia content (photo or video) are more retweeted than posts without a link; (2) posts linking a photo are more retweeted than posts linking a video, and (3) posts linking a video raise more sentiment than posts linking a photo. Hypotheses are tested on a sample of roughly two million tweets posted in July 2011 including comments on Berlin, London, Madrid, and Milan relevant from a tourism perspective. Findings support our hypotheses and indicate that multimedia content plays an important role in determining not only the volumes of retweeting, but also the dynamics of the virality of posts measured as speed of retweeting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessArticle Physical Computation as Dynamics of Form that Glues Everything Together
Information 2012, 3(2), 204-218; doi:10.3390/info3020204
Received: 1 March 2012 / Revised: 14 April 2012 / Accepted: 18 April 2012 / Published: 26 April 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (284 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The framework is proposed where matter can be seen as related to energy in a way structure relates to process and information relates to computation. In this scheme matter corresponds to a structure, which corresponds to information. Energy corresponds to the ability
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The framework is proposed where matter can be seen as related to energy in a way structure relates to process and information relates to computation. In this scheme matter corresponds to a structure, which corresponds to information. Energy corresponds to the ability to carry out a process, which corresponds to computation. The relationship between each two complementary parts of each dichotomous pair (matter/energy, structure/process, information/computation) are analogous to the relationship between being and becoming, where being is the persistence of an existing structure while becoming is the emergence of a new structure through the process of interactions. This approach presents a unified view built on two fundamental ontological categories: Information and computation. Conceptualizing the physical world as an intricate tapestry of protoinformation networks evolving through processes of natural computation helps to make more coherent models of nature, connecting non-living and living worlds. It presents a suitable basis for incorporating current developments in understanding of biological/cognitive/social systems as generated by complexification of physicochemical processes through self-organization of molecules into dynamic adaptive complex systems by morphogenesis, adaptation and learning—all of which are understood as information processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)

Review

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Open AccessReview The Teleodynamics of Language, Culture, Technology and Science (LCT&S)
Information 2013, 4(1), 94-116; doi:10.3390/info4010094
Received: 8 November 2012 / Revised: 30 January 2013 / Accepted: 2 February 2013 / Published: 7 February 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (108 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Logan [1] in his book The Extended Mind developed the hypothesis that language, culture, technology and science can be treated as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. This idea is extended by making use of the notion of teleodynamics that Deacon [2] introduced
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Logan [1] in his book The Extended Mind developed the hypothesis that language, culture, technology and science can be treated as organisms that evolve and reproduce themselves. This idea is extended by making use of the notion of teleodynamics that Deacon [2] introduced and developed in his book Incomplete Nature to explain the nature of life, sentience, mind and a self that acts in its own interest. It is suggested that language, culture, technology and science (LCT&S) like living organisms also act in their own self-interest, are self-correcting and are to a certain degree autonomous even though they are obligate symbionts with their human hosts. Specifically, it will be argued that LCT&S are essentially teleodynamic systems, which Deacon defines as “self-creating, self-maintaining, self-reproducing, individuated systems [2] (p. 325)”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessReview Review and Précis of Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter
Information 2012, 3(3), 290-306; doi:10.3390/info3030290
Received: 25 June 2012 / Revised: 23 July 2012 / Accepted: 30 July 2012 / Published: 7 August 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (107 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract We review and summarize Terrence Deacon’s book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)
Open AccessReview What Is Information?: Why Is It Relativistic and What Is Its Relationship to Materiality, Meaning and Organization
Information 2012, 3(1), 68-91; doi:10.3390/info3010068
Received: 15 January 2012 / Accepted: 2 February 2012 / Published: 14 February 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (155 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We review the historic development of concept of information including the relationship of Shannon information and entropy and the criticism of Shannon information because of its lack of a connection to meaning. We review the work of Kauffman, Logan et al. that shows
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We review the historic development of concept of information including the relationship of Shannon information and entropy and the criticism of Shannon information because of its lack of a connection to meaning. We review the work of Kauffman, Logan et al. that shows that Shannon information fails to describe biotic information. We introduce the notion of the relativity of information and show that the concept of information depends on the context of where and how it is being used. We examine the relationship of information to meaning and materiality within information theory, cybernetics and systems biology. We show there exists a link between information and organization in biotic systems and in the various aspects of human culture including language, technology, science, economics and governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)

Other

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Open AccessConcept Paper Terms for Talking about Information and Communication
Information 2012, 3(3), 351-371; doi:10.3390/info3030351
Received: 4 June 2012 / Revised: 17 August 2012 / Accepted: 20 August 2012 / Published: 27 August 2012
PDF Full-text (331 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper offers terms for talking about information and how it relates to both matter-energy and communication, by: (1) Identifying three different levels of signs: Index, based in contiguity, icon, based in similarity, and symbol, based in convention; (2) examining
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This paper offers terms for talking about information and how it relates to both matter-energy and communication, by: (1) Identifying three different levels of signs: Index, based in contiguity, icon, based in similarity, and symbol, based in convention; (2) examining three kinds of coding: Analogic differences, which deal with positive quantities having contiguous and continuous values, and digital distinctions, which include “either/or functions”, discrete values, and capacities for negation, decontextualization, and abstract concept-transfer, and finally, iconic coding, which incorporates both analogic differences and digital distinctions; and (3) differentiating between “information theoretic” orientations (which deal with data, what is “given as meaningful” according to selections and combinations within “contexts of choice”) and “communication theoretic” ones (which deal with capta, what is “taken as meaningful” according to various “choices of context”). Finally, a brief envoi reflects on how information broadly construed relates to probability and entropy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information: Its Different Modes and Its Relation to Meaning)

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